New Delhi: India on Wednesday will sign a long-awaited agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan through an ambitious US-based pipeline that will cross Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy on Tuesday left for Ashgabat via Amritsar for signing of the agreement, official sources said. Turkmenistan -- which holds more than 4 per cent of the world's natural gas reserves -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will sign the gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA) for TAPI pipeline during an international gas conference in the Caspian Sea resort of Avaza.
The 1,680-km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India line (TAPI) will have a capacity to carry 90 million cubic metres a day (mmcmd) gas for a 30-year period and will be operational in 2018, they said.
India and Pakistan will get 38 mmcmd gas each, while the remaining 14 mcmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.
India and Pakistan will get 38 mmcmd each, while the remaining 14 mcmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. The US is backing the pipeline as an alternative to the Iran-Pakistan-India line in its efforts to choke Tehran financially over its suspected nuclear weapons programme.
While New Delhi had reached agreements on price and transit clauses for the IPI pipeline, TAPI will be the first transnational line for which it will be signing a GSPA.
Besides meeting its energy needs, TAPI would be test of peace between India and Pakistan. More importantly, it will test Islamabad's resolve to normalise trade with its neighbour by allowing safe passage of the gas through the 800 km section of the pipeline passing through its territory.
Also, the 735-km leg through the Afghan provinces of Herat and Kandahar would presents significant security challenges.
TAPI will carry gas from Turkmenistan's Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name South Yoiotan Osman that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet.
From the field, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.
Sources said India will pay for the gas only when it is delivered to it at its border. Afghanistan and Pakistan would sign host country agreements to provide security to the pipeline. In exchange, they would get USD 0.50 per million British thermal unit as transit fee from India.
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan is promoting TAPI pipeline as a key element in plans to cut reliance on supplies to Russia and to boost annual gas exports to 180 billion cubic metres by 2030.
BP data show Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves equal to those of Saudi Arabia and behind only Russia, Iran and Qatar.